Dr. Moms multiplying at Akron Children’s Hospital

By Cheryl Powell
Beacon Journal medical writer

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Akron Children's Hospital Pediatrics Dr. Caridad Martinez-Kinder, who is expecting a child next month, shares a lighter moment with her patient, Katlynn Knox 11. At least 14 of the 77 doctors in pediatrics are either pregnant or recently welcomed a new baby into their family. (Phil Masturzo/Akron Beacon Journal)

The baby doctors at Akron Children’s Hospital Pediatrics are facing a baby boom of their own.

Nearly one in five physicians at the practice is expecting or recently gave birth.

Fourteen of the practice’s 77 doctors are pregnant or welcomed new babies into their families since late last year. One of the 10 certified nurse practitioners also is expecting.

As these Dr. Moms can attest, medical school doesn’t provide all the answers for parenthood.

‘‘You're not going to find every single scenario in the textbook, by all means,’’ said Dr. Caridad Martinez-Kinder, 30, a pediatrician in the practice’s Ellet office who is expecting her second child soon. “A lot of times, I pull from my experiences with my son or even my nieces and nephews. It definitely does make a difference when you have a child and can say: ‘I’ve been there. I’ve done that. This is what worked.’ ’’

Dr. Carrie Lehman, 39, is on maternity leave from the Tallmadge office after having her first child last month.

‘‘I think it will be helpful that I went through it myself now, not just the medical knowledge of it all,’’ she said.

Despite being in practice for a 12 years, Lehman struggled with the challenges of breast-feeding her son, Robinson.

‘‘I feel I've learned a lot more about breast-feeding and helping parents with that,’’ she said. ‘‘Doing it is a lot different from telling them about it. I think I’ll be a lot more helpful with them when I go back. I think I can be more compassionate toward them or understanding about what they’re going through.’’

The prevalence of pregnancies among the practice’s physicians isn’t too surprising, given the fact that 56 of the 77 doctors are women. The practice also has 10 certified nurse practitioners, all female.

From 1975 to 2010, the number of women doctors nationwide grew from 35,626 to 296,907, according to the American Medical Association.

In 1970, less than 8 percent of U.S. physicians were female, according to the AMA. During the next four decades, the percentage increased to more than 30. And women now make up nearly half the students at the nation’s medical schools.

Medical practices are adapting to accommodate young new physicians who want time to care for their own families.

Akron Children’s, for example, offers part-time and job-share positions in its regional network of 20 pediatric offices for doctors seeking a work-family balance, said Dr. Jennifer Dwyer, the practice’s medical director. The practice also employs three float providers who cover for doctors and nurse practitioners on maternity leave, vacations or other leaves of absences.

Though the practice didn’t expect quite so many simultaneous pregnancies among its doctors, Dwyer said, “it’s going OK.”

And in fact, she said, having physician moms helps the practice relate to patient families.

As working mothers, these doctors can empathize with working families, said Dwyer, who has two daughters.

“It helps you realize it’s not all black and white,” she said.

Dr. Katrina Regula, 32, who works four days a week in the practice’s Fairlawn office, is on leave after having her second child in March.

‘‘Once you have a child of your own, it’s kind of overwhelming how much love and concern you have for them,’’ she said. ‘‘Just in general, when parents come in with concerns, you're more understanding.

‘‘…You can learn about colicky babies all you want, but until you have one, you have no idea how stressful it can be.’’

Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or cpowell@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow Powell on Twitter at twitter.com/abjcherylpowell.

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